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of their wives. Mal. ii. 14, 16. No doubt the Jews, who were given to oppression, did their part in fulfilling the prediction, “ Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee;" though there is not an example on record in the Old Testament, nor in the New, of a man exercising authority over his wife; nor is it ever mentioned as being one of the husband's duties. We read of masters, parents, and civil rulers commanding, but not one word of the husband commanding. As we have shown that the husband did not exercise any supreme authority over the wife in the family, it is evidence that he did not possess any, or it would have been his imperative duty to have exercised it. We never hear of any husband being reproved for not exercising this authority. This certainly amounts to positive evidence that he had none. We have seen that the wife has acted freely and without any restraint in the family, performing offices which would only be lawful for one of the heads and governors of the family, and sanctioned by the supreme lawgiver, God himself, which, in our opinion, amounts to positive testimony that the husband has no supremacy over the wife in the domestic society.
If one half of the amount of examples could be produced on the side of the husband to show that he ruled, the example would be considered conclusive; for the fact of Abraham's telling his wife to “bake some cakes," has been brought forward from the sacred desk to prove that Abraham did command. The wife's authority in the family relation is not only established by example, but by direct precept. Is it the duty of the head and governor of a family to legislate? The wife acts in this capacity :-“My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother, for they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head and chains about thy neck,” Prov. i. 8, 9. Substantially the same, vi. 20, 23. If it is the child's duty to keep the mother's law, it is certainly the mother's duty to make a law of the character here specified. Again: she is spoken of as a legislator in the family, without having any particular reference to children: “She openeth her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” True, she has no weapon to enforce her law, only love ; but that is a powerful weapon.
As this chapter treats of woman's duty from the tenth verse to the end, we consider the example there given to be equal to a precept. She is there represented as acting so much without control, that some suppose she was a widow; but this is not so, because her husband is represented as praising her, thus performing his duty as cherisher. Her energy of character and industry supersede, in a great measure, the necessity of his duty as nourisher. . The fourth precept of the Decalogue is addressed to husband and wife united, under the appellation of thou,—and the fifth precept establishes her authority over the children as equal with the husband, Exod. xx. 9, 12. He is represented as governing the male servants, and she the female, Ps. cxxiii. 2. But the government of neither is limited to male or female servants. Abigail directed the male servants with as much freedom as she could have commanded the females. 1 Sam. xxv. 19. The apostle, in chap. vii. of 1st Corinthians, speaking on the duty of marriage, makes husband and wife equal.
We might proceed to particularize at greater length, but we will only add one instance. She has to appear at the bar of God, equally with the man, to answer whether she has performed her Lord's commands. “For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink,” &c., Matt. xxv. 35, 45. This supposes equal authority to perform those duties. Lest it might be said, that, as woman is not set in authority in the family, these duties will not be required of her, we will show that it is specially her duty to manifest her love to her Saviour by performing these duties: “If she have brought up children; if she have lodged strangers ; if she have washed the saints' feet; if she have relieved the afflicted ;" (and to embrace her full quota of moral duties ;) “ if she have diligently followed every good work,” 1 Tim. v. 10.
It is astonishing how the husband's absolute authority, in all worldly matters, has been considered a settled question in this enlightened age, so much as to be not even open for debate, so firmly established, as they suppose, by the inflexible mandates of Heaven, whilst, at the same time, it is built on so sandy a foundation ! Because, forsooth, the wife is told to be obedient to her husband, and because husband and wife are mystically one, as are Christ and the church, they immediately draw the conclusion that Christ, in his kingly office, is designated. Hence the husband is the king and legislator of the wife,-putting the creature in place of the Creator! Is man prepared to meet such momentous responsibilities? Some assign one reason for the regulation, and some another.
The strong hold of some is the declaration in Gen. iii. 16: “ Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” The end here is to inflict a penalty, which calls into action the vindictive passions; and it certainly would be a very grievous penalty for a person to be placed under the absolute authority of their domineering, capricious fellow creature in every thing that did not “appertain to the conscience.” Some make Ahasuerus' decree their foundation, Esth. i. 22. We do not know what foundation they suppose it stood on previous to the issuing of this edict. The end of authority here is, that man shall rule without any view to the good of the governed, but merely for the exercise of dominion. The end of the husband's authority, which we have had under consideration, is to prevent “dissension.”
Dr. Paley and Dr. Wayland both make this the ground of authority. If we were to judge from its practical operation, it would be to produce enmity, fulfilling the prophecy, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman." There is some shade of difference in opinion as to the extent of authority. Dr. Paley thinks that a woman does not divest herself altogether of her choice of means for the pursuit of happiness by the marriage contract. Dr. Wayland thinks that she must be obedient in every thing that does not “ appertain to the conscience.” This is the common popular belief, as to the extent of the husband's authority limiting the conscience to her religious creed and exercises. These authors should have been reminded of their principles when soliciting woman's aid, as one of the heads of the family, for the promotion of some benevolent or religious enterprise.
We wonder such men are not ashamed to solicit the assistance of women in such matters, when they fritter away their rights to barely what is indispensably necessary to
their own personal religion. What authority have women to give any donations, according to this theory? God will not accept robbery for burnt offering.
We are aware that principles of the character we have been treating, are calculated to create a panic, on account of their “disorganizing, revolutionary tendencies.” The idea of husband and wife being equal in the domestic society, would make some stand aghast, trembling for the portending, direful catastrophe !
But is not all this the chimera of a disordered imagination, or the promptings of a guilty conscience? We have no idea of taking the reins of government into our hands, or reducing men to slavery, nor to claim any superiority over them. We do not say that we will “ do to him as he hath done to us,” Prov. xxiv. 29. We would wish to be strictly governed by the principle, that all human beings are created equal. We consider it the way to promote peace, when every one enjoys the rights which God has given.
This is no new experiment. We have at present families under our eye, who are governed on the principle of the equality of husband and wife, and we think the virtuous woman and her husband in Proverbs, lived on this principle.
We have dwelt on this question at great length, because it is the prolific source of all the deprivation of rights, which women sustain. We have viewed this subject in different aspects, still confining it to the marriage relation. We find she is there called to the same obedience as the slave, according to our modern teaching.
We care not if she is seated in the parlour, clothed in silk, and decked with gold, and pearls, and costly attire-still her controlling power is another's will-she is only the portrait of a human being, as far as this world is concerned. She cannot be happy when thus governed. God has constituted her a person, a moral agent, and she cannot be happy when metamorphosed into a machine, unless she has become so degraded, that the sensibilities of her nature are rendered obtuse, or so imbecile, that she does not know her true position. This marital authority pursues her to every corner of the globe, and is not even limited to the wife. Wherever they find a human being guilty of being a woman, she is tried by the law of marriage; consequently she is deprived in the state of having a voice in making the laws by which she is governed, because the husband is the wife's representative. She must not exercise the gift of intellect and speech, in any promiscuous congregated assembly, because it would be highly undutiful and arrogant for a wife, and inconsistent with that reverence which she owes to her husband, to speak in any congregated assembly. The husband being a man, and the wife a woman, therefore all women are prohibited from speaking in congregated assemblies. And it is always supposed to be, a virtue and duty in women to lay no claim to any thing like intellect,-like Milton's Eve.
In the course of our remarks we have given our views on every portion of scripture which had any direct bearing on the relative standing of husband and wife, in the marriage relation, with the exception of Numbers xxx. in which the husband is supposed to be invested with the moral right to negative the vow of the wife, and also of the daughters. This portion of scripture, and Gen. iii. 16, are all the passages in the Old Testament, that can be construed in any way to favour the idea of the husband's supremacy. We have already shown, that the latter portion is a prophecy of the infliction of a penalty; having been, with few exceptions, universally fulfilled, more especially, in heathen countries among wicked and carnal men. The portion of Scripture, Numbers xxx. 6—15, is as follows: “And if she had at all a husband when she vowed, or uttered aught out of her lips, wherewith she bound her soul; and her husband heard it, and held his peace at her, in the day that he heard it; then her vows shall stand, and her bonds wherewith she bound her soul shall stand. But if her husband disallowed her on the day that he heard it; then he shall make her vow, which she vowed, and that which she uttered with her lips,